BANGKOK, June 10 (IANS): India�s Saina Nehwal waged a tough battle against local hope Ratchanok Inthanon to win the Thailand Open Grand Prix Gold badminton event here Sunday.
The world No.5 shrugged off a slow start to beat 11th-ranked Inthanon 19-21, 21-15, 21-10. It was Saina�s second title of the year after the Swiss Open in March. The Indian was the lone top-10 player in the tournament but the win could only give her confidence going into the London Olympics next month.
Saina trailed 9-15 in the first game and unlike her semifinal against another Thai Porntip Buranaprasertsuk, she could not cut the deficit.
She changed gears in the second game, racing to a 8-2 lead and winning it comfortably. The Hyderbadi controlled to the decider from point one to seal the victory.
It was her play close to the net that made the difference in the outcome of the match. She earned almost half of her points through net winners in the 1 hour 5 minute contest.
Saina said it was good to win the tournament before the Indonesian Superseries event next week.
�It (the win) was not easy as I was involved in a lot of tough matches. Now the focus is to do well in Indonesia. All the top Chinese players would be taking part so the competition will be a lot tougher than here,� said Saina.
PTI reports from New Delhi: The win will come as a massive boost to Saina�s confidence ahead of Olympics in July-August. The top seeded Indian was scratchy to start with but drew from her experience and superb maneuvering at the net to beat her second-seeded 17-year-old rival. Although it was a see-saw battle to start with, Inthanon�s energy and fabulous baseline play stood out. The smash winner, which is Saina�s stock shot, was coming out more frequently from the Thai�s racquet who seemed to revel amid the partisan crowd�s thunderous cheering.
�Saina started off slowly. Actually Inthanon was playing some very hard smashes in the initial part of the first game but Saina almost caught up with her and lost very closely,� Gopichand told PTI from Bangkok.
�But in the second game, she was confident and opened up a good lead and maintained that till the end. In the third game, she dominated throughout. Saina played the kind of game which was important because, she played lot of net dribbles and got points from the net,� he explained.
Gopichand said the title has lifted Saina�s spirits and she would be aiming to continue the form in next week�s Indonesia Open. �It is a very good victory and a very important one going into the next tournament which is in Indonesia. Hopefully, she will do well there and after that we will have five weeks of training for the Olympics, so overall a good victory for Saina,� he said.